BSAC Marketing Manager Debbie Powell reflects on last year’s strategic work and shares BSAC’s growth plans for 2019.

Early last year BSAC set out plans for 2018 in terms of how, together, we could grow scuba diving in the UK. After a year of focused activity across the network, BSAC membership is now on the up. It is early days, as before 2018 membership had been in gentle decline for some time.

However, since late Spring 2018, month by month, membership has been strengthening. New memberships rose by 4% in 2018 and we introduced 4,430 new people to BSAC club life. In addition, more members are staying and 2018 saw a 7% decrease in the numbers of members lapsing their membership.

So, what made the difference in 2018?

There were two priority projects to help grow membership in 2018. Firstly, a digital marketing programme aimed at growing the number of new member leads for clubs to capitalise on, and secondly, a proactive programme of support for clubs.

The power of the internet has enabled us to reach fresh audiences, and in 2018 focused digital activity more than doubled the number of enquiries to clubs via Despite this, the greatest recruitment gains by far were as a result of club-level activity. The ‘Let’s Grow Diving’ programme made use of all possible channels – emails, videos, face-to-face workshops, phone calls, checklists and social media to support clubs to grow.

Clubs responded in their hundreds and overwhelmingly it’s been those clubs that are now enjoying membership growth. As well as empowering clubs to help themselves, there have been hands-on services on offer such as the free Facebook advertisements for clubs initiative which delivered a 34% new member increase for the clubs that took part.

Start a BSAC clubGrow your club

Key membership statistics from 2018

  • Total members at the end of 2018 was 27,351
  • 2% increase in branch membership
  • 362% increase in targeted link clicks on social media
  • 30% increase in monthly users on
  • 109% increase in club enquiries via 
  • 620 clubs looking to recruit new members


So what’s in store for 2019?

BSAC is now three years into its five-year strategic plan. The first three years delivered a refreshed look for the organisation, an updated Ocean Diver course, a new website, digital services, new diving-related member benefits and supported clubs to grow. The next part of the plan is to build on the successful new member recruitment projects of 2018 and introduce new initiatives to increase the value of membership.

Five areas identified to grow and add value to membership

  1. Monthly bite-sized actions to help clubs grow 
    We’ll continue to give clubs (and members) advice and support on specific topics, to support them in recruiting and retaining members. We’ll use all channels to get the messages out to the right people – SCUBA magazine, BSAC Club support blog and email.
  2. Practical support to improve clubs’ online presence 
    Digital marketing tools such as club websites, Facebook Pages and Google Map entries are essential for clubs that want to grow. Websites in particular can be a pain point for clubs; they take time and not all clubs have the skills needed. As they are essential for clubs to grow, we’ll be looking at templated websites for clubs to help them set up effective websites much more easily. We also plan to increase the one-on-one practical support for clubs running Facebook advertisements (ads) to deliver more new member leads.
  3. ‘Know and Grow’ workshops 
    2019 will see further face-to-face Know and Grow workshops across the UK. Designed to deliver the guidance clubs need to help them grow, these events were positively received through 2018. 94 clubs attended the nine events last year, and collectively those clubs have seen an increase in membership. Not only can clubs learn new tips and tricks to help them thrive, the events deliver really useful feedback and insights to headquarters staff. 
  4. Growing new member leads via 
    We will continue to focus attention on harnessing the power of digital media to grow the number of new member leads being channelled through to clubs. 2018 saw an 109% increase in leads directed to clubs. We’re looking to grow that figure further through 2019 and will also work to support clubs on managing those leads as effectively as possible, so we give ourselves the best chance of converting the leads into new members.
  5. Improve the value of membership 
    Increasing new members is great, but it’s not much use unless we’re also successful at keeping the members we already have. Many an analogy has been used for this but possibly the best is – there’s no use in keeping filling the bucket with water if there’s a hole in it. So, in 2019, we also plan to add more value to BSAC membership so more members stay. We’ll be establishing a membership survey to benchmark, set targets and measure membership value / performance.

    We’ll review membership benefits and work to deliver more of what members want. We’re also planning on improving the membership ‘journey’, so we engage members more effectively; including supporting members in the type of diving or snorkelling they want to do. We’ll also look to support clubs more effectively in retaining members; covering topics such as how to keep members actively engaged with the club and keeping Five areas identified to grow and add value to membership enough instructors active so you can maintain an active training programme.
Photo by Nick Watson Two divers top side with boat in background

Your feedback

Please feedback on any part of these plans, we’d love to hear from you. 
Email Debbie or call 0151 350 6254.

Are you in a BSAC club that’s struggling?

Despite the overall success of 2018, the reality for many clubs is still a decline in membership. If you have fewer members and are struggling to get anyone interested in doing anything, it can all feel a big uphill battle. We urge those clubs to get in touch by email or call 0151 350 6201 so we can help. If you have even one person keen to make a difference, that’s a start. We’ve helped clubs from that point and it’s worked. BSAC’s main purpose is to support its family of clubs and members in their pursuit of fabulous, safe diving and snorkelling, and we’re here for all clubs and all members.

Five ways every member can help grow their club

Are you a BSAC Direct member and Instructor?

Clubs in your area would very likely appreciate your help. Please either contact your local clubs directly or BSAC can help match you where assistance is needed in your area.
Please email the team or call 0151 350 6201.

Are you a BSAC Direct member?

We understand not all members want to be part of a club. The work in 2019 to bring greater value to membership will benefit you. We’ll be ‘reaching out’ with relevant offerings for you. And please remember, you already have lots of opportunities to dive and train with the regional and national training events, find BSAC training events near youexpedition opportunities and you can hook up with local clubs to go diving. Find your local BSAC club.

Well done to our top 20 recruiting clubs in 2018

Rank Club name New members in 2018 Website Facebook
1 Clidive 40
2 Hartford SAC 30
3 Barnsley BSAC Divers 28
4 Bradford Sub Aqua Club 27
5 North Wales Technical Divers 26
6 Holborn Sub Aqua Club 22
7 Doha Sub Aqua Club 20 -
8 Stroud Valley Sub Aqua Club 20
9 Kingston & Elmbridge 19
10 Lisburn Sub Aqua Club 19
11 Chester Sub Aqua Club 19
12 High Altitude Divers 19 - -
13 The Golden Lion SAC 19
14 Grimsby & Cleethorpes 18
15 St Ives SAC 18
16 Merseyside 17
17 Harrogate BSAC 17
18 Peninsula Sub Aqua Club 17
19 Chillington Divers 17
20 Bermondsey BSAC 16



Love the BSAC Diving Conference?

It will be back with a vengeance in 2019! Plans are underway and we’re set for another bumper event at the stunning Vox venue (next to the Dive Show, NEC, Birmingham) on 26 October 2019. We’ll be releasing the exciting plans soon but meanwhile, please save the date.


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